Athletics' chief Tang trims SEA Games gold target from six to three
He had targeted six golds for track and field at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here next June, which would match Singapore's best haul in the sport at the biennial regional contest (1969, 1973).
Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) president Tang Weng Fei first mentioned it in 2010 when he succeeded Loh Lin Kok, and the goal was brought up again at re-elections earlier this year.
Now, with less than eight months to go to the Games, Tang acknowledged that three golds would be a realistic target.
"Three (gold medals) is very possible, but to get five or six, everything has to go perfectly for us," the oil trader told The New Paper yesterday, after the SAA released their qualifying standards and period of qualification for athletes.
"We are looking at the men's marathon, with Mok Ying Ren, women's shot put (Zhang Guirong) and possibly Shanti (Pereira) in the 100m sprint, although it might be hard for her since the Vietnamese sprinter is very good," he added, referring to last year's SEA Games champion Vu Thi Huong, who also won the women's 200m.
"Among others, the men's relay team (4x100m) also have a good chance, but everything has to go perfectly for us to get the gold."
The Republic returned from last year's SEA Games in Myanmar with two golds (Mok and Zhang), three silvers and three bronze medals.
At the recently concluded Asian Games, only the men's 4x100m and the women's 4x400m relay teams made the finals, with the male quartet finishing just 0.02 seconds off their national record of 39.45sec.
Other than that, only sprinter Lee Cheng Wei equalled his personal best when he clocked 21.57sec in the men's 200m.
The qualifying window for track and field for next year's SEA Games opened in April this year, and athletes have until March next year to make their respective standards, defined by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) as the bronze-medal result of the previous SEA Games.
So far, Shanti (women's 200m), Zubin Percy Muncherji (men's 400m), the men's 4x100m relay team, Zhang and Hannah Lee (both women's discus) have made the qualifying mark.
While Tang would not be drawn into his ideal number for the track and field contingent next year, he hopes to field at least one athlete in each event.
He said: "Of course, the SNOC has to approve, but we want to make sure that we are represented in every event, because we are the host country and it wouldn't cost us much to do that.
"We do have athletes who are training in new events; for example (runner Goh) Chui Ling is already training for the heptathlon, while we have an athlete training for the decathlon.
"We also have race walkers and Hannah can also do the hammer."
He said the Asian Games team will have three weeks off before resuming training for the SEA Games, while the rest of the athletes will continue working towards the big show next June.
Tang added: "We will try (to achieve our six-gold target), but setting the goal is one thing, training towards it will be a whole different ball game."
SAA search for new coach
If all things go well, the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) will have a new national coach by the end of the year.
SAA president Tang Weng Fei confirmed yesterday that the national sports association is still in the process of recruiting a national trainer.
He said: "We are now in the process of talking to a few people, but I cannot give you more details."
Along with SAA's vice-president (training and selection) C Kunalan and the Singapore Sports Institute, SAA general manager Yazeen Buhari and development and performance chief Asmah Hanim are involved in the search.
When contacted, Asmah, 30, said: "We are currently looking at foreign coaches who specialise in the sprints, jumps or hurdles.
"We've identified a couple but are still in discussions as we want to find the right candidate... who is an expert in the field and able to work with our system and athletes. We hope to have a name by December this year."
The SAA has been searching for a national coach and a new head of high performance since the start of the year.
Vice-president (competitions organising) Loh Chan Pew had been the interim high performance head between March last year and this January, before Asmah was appointed in March this year.